Threaded in the history of the Disability Rights Movement, is the fight to gain access and protection from established social institutions that so readily serve able-bodied individuals. Like many other marginalized communities, whether it be racial, gender, or sexual minorities, individuals with disabilities have long fought to gain equal benefit from the health care, education, and criminal justice systems that characterize our democracy.
The history of the Disability Rights Movement is often not explored in classroom contexts. Why not? How does it connect with other civil and social rights movements? When we think of contemporary events, like the failure to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, how do we hold the failed institutions at the base of these issues accountable? Specifically, how do we hold institutions accountable for serving individuals who are not able-bodied?
For further reading, check out the Zinn Education Project's list of teacher resources designed to engage students on the history of individuals with disabilities. And if you are an able-bodied individual, try thinking about the services and institutions you would not be able to access-whether physical, like gaining immediate entry into a multi-floor office, or political-like seeing individuals that look like you in government, if you were not able-bodied.